Conservation and Trapping Science

Muskrat: Androgen plays an important role in regulating the synthesis of pheromone in the scent gland of muskrat
Nov 24, 2021 07:09 ET
Highlights

A muskrat castration model by surgical removal of the testis is established.


After castration, significant atrophy of muskrats’ scent gland cells occurred and there was a significant change in musk gland gene expression and muskrat musk pheromone composition and content.


Androgen was found to play an important role in regulating the synthesis of pheromone in the scent gland of muskrat.


Abstract
The scent (musk) gland is an organ unique to muskrats and other scent-secreting animals, and the pheromones (musk) synthesized and secreted by the scent gland play a role in chemical communication among scent-secreting animals. The musk gland is synchronized with testicular developmental changes; however, little is known regarding androgen secretion from the testis and how this regulates pheromone synthesis and the secretion of scent. To investigate the effect of androgens on the synthesis of pheromones in the musk gland, we established a muskrat castration model by surgical removal of the testis, and analyzed the histomorphology, hormone concentration, gene expression, and changes in the chemical composition of the musk gland in castration and control groups by histomorphological analysis, Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Histomorphological analysis results showed that after castration, muskrat gland cells underwent significant atrophy (P < 0.05). Hormone measurement results showed that there was a significant decrease in serum testosterone and muskrat musk testosterone (P <  0.05) after muskrat castration. Transcriptome sequencing results showed that 510 differentially expressed transcripts were mainly enriched in fatty acid metabolism, terpenoid backbone biosynthesis, fatty acid degradation, PPAR signaling pathway, and fatty acid biosynthesis. GC-MS results showed that macrocyclic ketones, steroids, fatty acids, alcohols, and esters in musk were significantly changed (P < 0.05). In conclusion, androgens were found to play an important function in the chemical communication exchange between muskrats through regulating pheromone synthesis in musk cells. This study provides a basis for understanding the mechanism of animal communication influenced by androgens.

Keywords
MuskratScent glandCastrationPheromoneTranscriptome

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